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How can private individuals buy and distribute Remdesivir, Bombay HC asks Centre

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The Bombay High Court on Tuesday sought to know from the Centre as to how private individuals were procuring Covid-19 drugs such as Remdesivir directly from pharmaceutical companies, while the companies are required to provide its entire production to the Centre, which enables distribution to the states.

A division Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni made the observations while hearing a PIL filed by city-based lawyer Sneha Marjadi alleging improper management of the Covid-19 situation in Maharashtra and seeking directions pertaining to shortage of Remdesivir and oxygen among other matters.

The Court took note of the alleged distribution of over 10,000 vials of Remdesivir by Ahmednagar MP after buying it from Delhi and added that its Aurangabad Bench had already taken cognizance of the same on Monday.

BJP’s Dr Sujay Vikhe Patil, a Member of Parliament from the Ahmednagar constituency, had last week procured and distributed 10,000 Remdesivir injections.

On Tuesday, the HC asked the Centre’s lawyer, “How can 10,000 vials be made available by airlifting them from Delhi by a chartered plane? Would it not amount to private distribution by the person? Delhi itself is in crisis.”

“We want the drugs to reach everyone who is needy and should not be only in the hands of a few,” Justice Girish S Kulkarni added.

The Court was informed that the incident in Ahmednagar should not be seen in isolation and there were many such private individuals who were procuring the drugs.

To this, the Bench said, “If we find further such instances where pharmaceutical companies are providing Remdesivir directly to private individuals, we may pass an injunction against them.”

The Bench also directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to inform it about the functioning of its helpline for Covid bed management in hospitals (1916) and sought to know how the BMC can make sure that vacant beds are immediately reflected on the dashboard of BMC’s portal.

Seeking responses from the Centre and state government, the Court scheduled the next hearing for Thursday, April 29.

The court also directed the state government to provide the status of crematoriums and morgues across Maharashtra and measures taken to improve their conditions, after it was informed that the situation at cremation centres were not properly managed due to the large number of Covid-19 victims bodies being received.

“Crematorium system needs to be improved. We cannot have bodies lying at crematoriums for hours,” the HC said.

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